Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year Of Star Trek

Well, it's almost over. I have the two latest films to watch today (and I'm going to re-watch the original pilot) and then I will have watched all of Star Trek in 2013.

When this year first started I thought that, when December rolled around, I might get a Star Trek tattoo to celebrate the completion of my project. For years, I wanted to get a bunch of geek symbols all meshed together into one large tattoo. Now, I can't imagine doing that.

I've thought a lot about this little phenomenon because it's indicative of something larger.

I mentioned in a recent post (I say recent but I think it was sometime in November) that my appreciation for Star Trek has shifted, deepened even though my level of fervor for it seems to have cooled. How is this possible? What changed? How can I appreciate something more and less at the same time?

I've had about a month since then to reflect on this and I think it comes down to a few things. (Stick with me because I'm honestly still just gathering my thought about this and, as it's December 31st, I'm quite emotional about it all.)

For one thing, my life changed pretty drastically this year. With Scott suddenly working in television, I got a glimpse at the workings that make the magic happen. I hung around sound stages, stayed up late with Scott while he was finishing revisions of drafts, talked to him about how his episodes would fit into the larger arcs of the series, and drank beer with Jonathan Frakes. It should've been surreal but it wasn't. It was just the direction my life had taken. And, with that direction, I found a more personal, more human part of the show that I was watching. I couldn't just look at Picard and see Picard anymore. I saw the actor, styled by professionals, saying lines written by one guy, revised by another guy, and approved by yet another guy, directed by someone else entirely on a set created by hundreds of people. It's not that I stopped believing in magic but that I developed a new understood how magic worked. So, there's that.

Another thing: I just got a book deal. It's odd because I got a deal for two of my novels at the same time. The first, Awesome Jones, took me several years to write and revise. It was my baby, my first child, and I spent a long time just figuring out how to bring it up. I've lived in the world of Awesome Jones for years. I know the city the characters inhabit better than I know my own. And now, every one else is about to have access to that city. Those characters. Their story. I'm turning over the keys to my world to anyone who wants them and it's exciting and terrifying and humbling all at once. At the same time, I'm slowly going from being a fan to a creator and I think that has changed the way I view the worlds of other fandoms.

Alright, here's the last (maybe?) thing. When I first started this project, I LOVED Star Trek. I understood that it had had its not-as-good episodes and that it had ups and downs over the years but, as a fan with the power of Netflix, I was capable of glossing over that stuff. I could also watch it any time I wanted. I could spend weeks without watching Star Trek and not even realize it. I would happen upon an episode I hadn't seen in years and think, "Oh, I forgot all about this one." But then, January rolled around and I started this blog. To say I watched three episodes a day (which is true) isn't even really giving what happened here credit. What I ended up in was a completely immersive experience. I watched the episodes. I read about the episodes. I took notes about the episodes. I read about the behind-the-scenes stuff. I wrote a post (almost every day) that was (hopefully) thoughtful and (hopefully) well-crafted. And then I put it online for a bunch of strangers (who soon became friends) to read. This became my job. It became my entire life. I stopped responding to emails. I stopped writing and submitting short stories. I stopped watching other TV. My whole life suddenly became Star Trek.  When I would (on rare occasion) meet up with friends, I found that all my "humorous anecdotes" were now about some Star Trek behind-the-scenes thing or something hilarious Geordi did the other day. I lived it, breathed it, and dreamed it.

Then, somewhere around the end of DS9 and the beginning of Voyager, I hit a wall. I woke up one morning and thought, "I don't know. Can I keep doing this? I'm so tired. I'm sick. I'm suddenly trying to revise a novel and I'm in the middle of my second move of the year and..." But then I just stopped moaning, turned on the TV, sat down with my breakfast, and watched Star Trek. And I was comforted. And I wrote a post. And I was comforted. And I read the comments. And I was comforted. And I realized that, even though Star Trek had taken over my life in many ways, it had become such an integral part of my day that I didn't want to be without it. That even when I was sort of exhausted with this whole thing, I was comforted by the experience.

In fact, now, if I just start talking about the year coming to an end, my throat tightens up and I'm seconds away from full-fledged tears. I have cried and cried and cried. I have burst into tears just listening to other people talk about finish their own projects. I have broken down upon receiving emails from my readers. I have blubbered into my tea just counting the number of episodes I had left. I don't want the project to be over.

So many times people have asked, "But won't you be relieved? You don't have to be tied down to this show anymore. You can watch whatever you want and blog whenever you feel like it."

Nope. I don't feel relieved. I feel distressed. I feel like someone is cutting a part of my life away.

Because that's what, in the course of this year, Star Trek has become. It's a part of my life. It's as familiar to me as any other part of my day. It's not perfect. (In fact, in many ways it's very flawed. It's a show about humans created by human hands and human hearts and so there's no way for it to be perfect.) But I love it. And my love for it is less about fawning over it and worshiping it as I might once have done. Now, after My Year Of Star Trek, it's about acknowledging that it's a part of my life, that it's always been a part of my life, and letting it slip back into the background, knowing that it's always there if I need it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Enterprise: Season Four Essentials

Wow. Talk about the home stretch. I honestly can't believe it's already time for my very last Season Essentials post. When I first conceived of this Essentials idea, back in January, I sort of imagined what it might be like to write the last one. I knew it'd be December and I knew it'd be Enterprise.

 I didn't know that I'd move. Twice. I didn't know I'd meet LeVar Burton or spend a week with Jonathan Frakes. I didn't know I'd spend a week in Vancouver while my husband's writing career took off or get an email from a publisher informing me that mine was about to. I didn't know I'd fall so in love with this project or with you--the person who comes here every day to see what I've been up to. It's been quite a year and I'm so incredibly honored that you're here with me.

Now for my last Essentials post. This one's a little bit different.

1- The Forge/ Awakening/ Kir'Shara
Have the jerk Vulcans been bugging you this whole time? Do you wonder what happened to make them (slightly) less pissy between Archer's time and Kirk's? All of your questions are answered here. Additionally, Soval will most likely suddenly become one of your favorite characters.
Stand Out Line:
So I'm suffering from... a mind-meld hangover? 

2- Babel One/ United/ The Aenar
The Romulans, in typical Romulan form, are trying to start a war between the Andorians, Tellarites, and humans. This is is how that plan backfires.
Stand Out Line: As far as I know there are no species in the galaxy that have mastered the art of mixing romance and vocation. This is one ailment that is universally unbeatable; you'll have to suffer through it.

3- Affliction/ Divergence
The story of how the Klingons lost their head turtles. Not to be missed.
Stand Out Line: When I asked you to bring me a subject for dissection, I assumed he would already be dead.

4- In A Mirror Darkly Parts 1 & 2
We get one last glimpse through the looking glass with this two-parter. It's crammed full of Star Trek references and homages and just about every part of it is perfectly done.
Stand Out Line: Will you kindly die? 

5- Demons/ Terra Prime
Alright, you'll notice that I haven't written about the Enterprise series finale prior to this post. That's because, like a lot of people who loved this show, I don't feel that the episode did the series justice. Instead, this last arc gracefully ties up a lot of what we care about in terms of long-term story lines. Each character has something meaningful to do and the Tripp/T'Pol relationship arc is given a beautiful, true moment. Archer's speech at the end is a heartfelt very, very Trek.
I advise you to simply stop here.
Stand Out Line: This is the thirty-second planet I've set foot on! 

Runners Up:

Borderland/ Cold Station 12/ The Augments
This is the Augment arc. If you want to see Data romp around with some Khan-esque jerks, you'll get plenty of that here.

Stormfront Parts 1 & 2
Space Nazis and Star Trek and mobsters have had a long history. This one joins all three for a layer cake of Trek tropes that totally works.

Alright, I know, I know. I've pretty much stayed the course with five essentials and two runners up but I just couldn't this time. The mini-arcs in season four of Enterprise are too intertwined AND too good to miss. So just... watch them all. If you're REALLY hard up, watch the Mirror episodes and the Demons/Terra Prime arc. They're lovely.

That's it. That's my last Essentials list. I hope you've enjoy them. I hope they've helped. I know I've loved creating these posts for you. I'll miss it.

His Year Of Star Trek

The following is a guest post from my husband: 

As I pointed out in my other guest post, when you live with someone having her year of Star Trek, it’s your year of Star Trek, too. I didn’t watch all 726 episodes and 12 movies along with AshleyRose (watching 726 episodes and 12 movies in a single year would just be crazy, right?) but I did see several of them. Due to the nature of my job, sometimes I’m gone long hours and sometimes I’m home 24/7 for weeks at a time. That means that my viewing was pretty spotty. Long gaps followed by intense bursts of watching everything (or nearly everything) AR watched. Now that we’ve finished Enterprise, I’ve been reflecting a little on how my year of Star Trek has impacted my feelings toward each series.

The Original Series

While AshleyRose was watching TOS, I was busy working, so I didn’t see too many episodes. What I was most struck by in the episodes I did catch, though, was that, especially in the early ones, William Shatner is not a bad actor. He does ham it up a little (and more so as the years go on) but, honestly, he could be pretty damned good at times. We’re so used to people doing those over-the-top impressions of Shatner (including, I think, Shatner himself) that we don’t realize he could act.

The Animated Series

When I was growing up, we didn’t have every television show ever made available to us whenever we wanted to fire up our computer machines or whatever you kids are using nowadays. Back then, all we had was a thing called a Viewmaster (Google it on your computer machine and then get out of my yard.) I owned one (that, as I recall, I had to walk up hill in the snow to buy .) One of the sets of discs I had for it was from Star Trek: The Animated Series. I longed to actually be able to watch that show. I loved Star Trek and I loved cartoons. It killed me knowing that a Star Trek animated series was out there but I had no way (beyond a cheap, plastic toy that would show me a few stills) of seeing it.  Fast forward to my year of Star Trek. Through the wonder that is Netflix, I could watch every episode. I ended up just watching one. It didn’t do much for me. I know I should give The Animated Series another chance. If little me could be here now, he would be so disappointed in me. And also freaked out and excited by being able to watch every television show ever made whenever he wanted to. And also thrilled by computer machines. And deeply sad that the flying car never happened. Deeply, deeply sad. The future ain’t what it used to be.

The Next Generation

I found TNG in the middle of its original run and rediscovered my love for Star Trek. This show helped me through some tough times back then and, in part, inspired me toward the career I’m in now. As a matter of fact, I pretty much started this career working on the very Paramount sound stages on which they shot nearly all of Trek and, later in the year on a different project, I spent a couple of weeks working closely with one of the TNG cast.

I didn’t get to watch any TNG with AshleyRose this time around. I was too busy on those stages and with that actor. It’s just as well. I can’t judge The Next Generation anymore. I’m too close to it. TNG is magical for me. Always was and, now, even more so.

Deep Space Nine

During the initial run of DS9, I watched for a couple of seasons, got very tired of Bajoran politics, drifted away, then came back to find that the show had improved. This time around, I saw the episodes I missed. Some I loved (“The Visitor,” “Little Green Men”) some I hated (O’Brian in screwed up brain prison, that one where Molly falls in a hole then comes out all grown up and feral) but over all, I was surprised by one thing: How much undue credit Avery Brooks gets as a great actor. Don’t get me wrong, I love him. I’m not trying to run Brooks down. But, people, come on. Take a look at him on any episode of DS9 then go back and watch Shatner in an early episode of TOS. Shatner was as good or better. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.


I thought I’d watched Voyager back in the day. I mean, I did for a few seasons, until the local channel that carried it stopped. I knew there were episodes I missed, but, overall, I thought I’d watched it. I walked around for years talking about how I thought it was the weakest of the Star Trek series and how I didn’t like Neelix and blah, blah, blah, blah-freaking-blah. Turns out, I hadn’t watched Voyager at all. Oh, I’d seen lots and lots of episodes, but watching it all together like I did this time made me really appreciate it. Even Neelix. Especially Neelix. And Janeway. What a badass. Seriously. Not all episodes were winners of course, not close (this is the series that had “Threshold,”) but I was one of those people who thought DS9 was art and Voyager was crap. Boy, was I wrong. I’m really glad I gave it another chance.


I love this series. I love Archer and Trip and T’Pol. I love the wide-eyed wonder. I love the way everything in space can kick their asses but they boldly go out there anyway. I love the title sequence, with its footage of Chuck Yeager, Amelia Earhart and Alan Shepard. I even love that theme song (before they ruined it by trying to jazz it up in season three.) But, what I love most about Enterprise is that it was the series that helped AshleyRose and I get together. We’d met a couple of years earlier at a play audition (our first words to each other were the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet) and I’d recruited her for a short film I was making. That led to a late night phone conversation in which a passing reference to Enterprise was made. She had no idea I loved Star Trek. I had no idea she did. Had we not geeked out together my life might not have changed in the very best possible way.

Which brings me to most important thing I’ve learned this year. If someone says to you, “It’s just a TV show,” (even if it’s ol’ BillShatner himself doing the talking) tell them they’re wrong. Star Trek isn’t just a TV show. Star Trek is common ground. It’s shared history for us fans. It’s a connection between people who might otherwise never connect. That’s important. Don’t let anyone every try to make you feel otherwise.

So, give the episodes/series you didn’t like so much another shot. Reevaluate the ones you loved. Have your opinions, share them, debate them even (you probably want to debate my Brooks/Shatner acting evaluations and my love for the Enterprise theme song right now,) but, above all, be nice to each other. We’re all part of a kind of far-flung family, us Trek fans, and it’s one to which I feel very happy – and lucky – to belong.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Enterprise: In A Mirror, Darkly

So, once upon a time, Kirk, Bones, Scotty and Uhura moseyed over to a universe that was not our own and set off a fan-favorite phenomenon that melted into pop culture in the form of goatee-wearing versions of all our most loved TV friends. We didn't see the other side again until DS9. They were practically in love with the mirror universe and Sisko made more trips over there than anybody. It disappeared again during only to be resurrected at the very end of Enterprise's run. And man, what a resurrection it is.

In a Mirror, Darkly is an astounding mix of tropes from The Original Series all viewed through the other side of the looking glass. It's as if the writers/producers had a check list of all the stuff from TOS they hadn't got around to doing and just did it.

The episode is a prequel to Mirror, Mirror but a sequel to The Tholian Web. Thanks to the crew having worn their EV suits over to the Defiant, they all get change into the absolutely fabulous TOS-era uniforms. The old style phasers have a glorious kill setting that straight-up dissolves a guy. There's a dead red shirt on the bridge (exactly where he was in Tholian Web--a nice touch.) Everyone's drinking Romulan Ale and eating Play Dough cubes. Soval has a goatee.

And, oh yeah, a GORN shows up.

Not to mention the totally bitchin' opening sequence:

This is an absolutely beautiful, amazing two-parter. It's chock full of lines and bits that refer to The Original Series and beyond. It is more than worth the watch. It's essential. And, it is the very last romp for My Year Of Star Trek. 

Sadly, it was in the shooting of this episode that Enterprise was officially cancelled. At the time that most of this stuff was being filmed, they were still hoping for more. I was still hoping for more. During this viewing, after being reminded of what wonderful, creative things this show was capable of, it just depresses me that Enterprise didn't get a better shot. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Love Note To A Theme Song

There are few things more maligned in Star Trek than the Enterprise theme song. Written by Diane Warren and performed by Russell Watson, Faith of the Heart is a complete break from the traditional, sweeping, orchestral themes used in modern Trek. People (and by people I mean Star Trek fans) hated the theme. They hated it. They wrote letters to UPN trying to get it removed. They wailed and flailed all over the internet about how it's "not Star Trek" saying, "We wish to express our unmitigated disgust with the theme song that has been selected for the new 'Enterprise' series, it is not fit to be scraped off the bottom of a Klingon's boot." Simon Pegg even went into full-on Angry Fanboy Mode and condemned the song saying that it's the reason he never even tried Enterprise--which is a shame. And, even my dear old dad calls it "that graduation song."

But, here's the thing. I loved it.

Do I like the song itself? Have I ever listened to it in my car or on my ipod? Nope. It's really not my kind of thing. I don't get into soft rock ballads with overly sweet lyrics. But I don't think this revelation really means much. I don't blast the TOS, TNG, DS9, or Voyager themes while I'm running or driving or writing either. And, I like/love all the other Star Trek openings.

I love the Enterprise opening. I loved it from the start. I think I liked the departure from previous Trek. I think that, once we got to the end of Voyager, Star Trek had already kind of run its course in terms of plot and gimmicks and ideas and I think one more orchestral score while we looked at planets and exteriors of the ship would've just been more of the same. We needed something new for a new kind of show.

It helps that I'm a space history fan. I can look at still pictures of Amelia Earhart, astronauts in Snoopy hats and Chuck Yeager in front of Glamorous Glennis and get all misty-eyed. But it's not the imagery alone that gets me. I like the sentiment of the song. I know it's kind of cheesy and obvious but it's also sincere and I've talked a lot here about how much sincerity means to me.

My dad is right. It is a graduation song. It's about a time in Star Trek history when everyone was wide-eyed and excited about a universe they couldn't begin to understand while everyone older and wiser regarded them with disdain and doubt. It's about a bunch of relative kids heading out with zero cynicism and being greeted with nothing but. It's about believing that you're standing on the threshold of a brighter future. That's Enterprise. That's why I love the opening and that's why I love the show.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Thing About Foreheads Is...

So, a long time ago, Klingons looked like this:

This is Kor--pretty much my favorite Klingon
Then, The Animated Series came along and the Klingons all started wearing lovely pink outfits but otherwise looked the same:
Then, The Motion Picture happened and all the freaking sudden, the bastards looked like this:
Incidentally, this Klingon is played by my BFF, Mark Lenard
They looked pretty much this way until you get to the lolli-pop-headed Worf in TNG. Luckily, as the seasons went on, he got a freaking gorgeous head of hair and basically solidified the way Klingons looked for the rest of Star Trek.

No matter what the hairstyle though, Klingons were the most conspicuous baddies in The Original Series but from the time Mark Lenard put a giant turtle on his head that was the universal Klingon look. Turtle head = Klingon.

For literally decades, it was something that the Star Trek franchise and fandom glossed over. We all knew the reason behind the change was budgetary as well as technology. The makeup became better and Star Trek got a little more money and, consequently, Klingons would forever look more menacing and less like some regular guys with bubble wrap belts slung over their shoulders.

And then Trials and Tribble-ations happened. The DS9 crew went back in time to the events in Trouble With Tribbles and Worf was asked about the completely flat foreheads of his TOS-era brethren. His answer, "A viral mutation... We do not discuss it with outsiders."

So, then came Enterprise. They said, "You know, we're about to get cancelled and we love tying together all kinds of stuff from the Treks that came before/later. Let's explain this whole Klingon Turtle Head thing."

And they do. It's yet another mini-arc (only two episodes) all about how the Klingons went from having turtle heads to not having turtle heads to getting their turtle heads back. Some people like the Enterprise explanation, some people hate it. I love it. I love Phlox' involvement in it. I love the way all these events play out and the Klingon connection to (what's probably Star Trek's best villain) Khan. I was always content with just sort of imagination retconning ridges onto the TOS-era Klingons. I never needed an additional explanation. However, now that I have one, I love it. And I'm glad I got to see my Enterprise friends do the explaining.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holidays with TNG PEZ

A few days after I started my PEZ Advent Calendar, I came into the kitchen to find that my mini-TNG crew had moved around:

With a little intervention from Scott, the TNG crew were pretty active. Were they mingling? Planning a mission? Planning a holodeck adventure?

Nope. As it turns out, they were just getting ready for the holidays. They spent today celebrating, reminiscing, and enjoying each other's company.

Worf and Data discussed Geordi's Christmas present when they thought wasn't around.
Some sort of Christmas Space Cotillion? 
Data got himself into trouble on an ingredient gathering away mission.
They ate like... a ton of food. 
And a couple of them got a extra cozy. 
I hope that, whether you celebrate Christmas, Secular Christmas, Festivus, Winter Solstice, Doctor Who Day, or nothing at all, you had a good day. The TNG PEZ and I are wiped out. Time for some (totally not weird) cuddling. 

Enterprise: Those Romulan Jerks

I've already gone into how much (and why) I love the mini-arcs that comprise season four of Enterprise and the Romulans Are Jerks arc is no different.

Right from the start, this one has a lot going for it. The arc follows a Romulan plot to spread dissent among pretty much all the folks who live within a warp-speed-stone's-throw from Earth but, in Starfleet fashion, Archer takes their plans in the exact opposite direction. One of my very favorite TOS episodes is Journey to Babel and Enterprise's salute to that one--Babel One--does a nice job of introducing the promise of peace and a history of unrest between the Andorians and Tellartites. Shran is awesome, his girlfriend is kick ass. The Tellarites are appropriately rude. Archer has finally come into his own as a diplomatic yet tough Starfleet captain.

The way this story, these cultures, these characters come together is well-constructed and satisfying. Shran's arc alone is captivating and the way he plays his part of this story is sincere and heartbreaking. The Romulans (who I've always inexplicably loved) are great and devious and totally just as bent on universe domination as they are later to come (though maybe not as good at it yet.) This arc fits beautifully into the rest of Enterprise and the rest of Trek and totally deserves a watch.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Enterprise: The Vulcan Reformation Arc

Again, I LOVE these mini-arcs. Tonight I watched the whole Vulcan Reformation arc in one sitting and it was pretty awesome.

The Vulcan embassy on Earth is bombed and a splinter sect of Vulcans are apparently to blame. Archer and T'Pol head to the Vulcan desert (which is pretty much the whole planet) to track them down and, while they're wandering around some craziness happens and Archer gets Surak's (yes the Surak) katra lodged in his brain pan. Meanwhile, Trip's been left in charge of the Enterprise while Archer's away and he has to deal with a whole mess of conspiracy, the Vulcan ambassador, Soval, and some pissed off Andorians.

I really love this whole series of episodes. It perfectly sets up the change in Vulcan attitudes that happens between Archer's time and Kirk's.  It gives us more insight into Vulcan history, religion, and the practices that we're all so familiar with--the mindmeld isn't so uncommon among these renegade, desert dwellers--and we get a good look at a planet that's always talked about but rarely visited. Additionally, we get a nod to stuff/people that we know well from the previous series. T'Pau is a more fleshed-out character, Surak is more than just a religious figurehead, the terms "katra" and "idic" are brought back and explained with more depth.

And, of course, it's an Archer/T'Pol BFF fieldtrip episode and I always love those. This whole thing only takes three episodes but it's full to the gills of clever lines, surprising character moves, and interesting nods to the rest of Trek.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Enterprise: Space Jerks and Augments (who are also Space Jerks)

Here's a reason that I really like Season Four of Enterprise: Mini-Arcs. I love mini arcs within TV shows. You get the best of both worlds. A little bit serialized, a little bit episodic. You can have a story line that lasts more than forty-five minutes but, if you don't like it, it's over in about three or four episodes.

The first mini-arc is all about some evil Space Nazis from the future. It's only two episodes long but it's got some pretty powerful imagery, our TV friends in period costumes, some cool ideas (like some Brooklyn gangsters giving these Nazis the what-for) and a great character in the tough, smart Alecia Travers:

also--she's gorgeous
The second arc is all about Jerk Doctor Soong trying to re-start the Eugenics revolution. He's been in prison for several years while his Jerk Augment Kids have grown up all by themselves.
which is apparently why they have no idea how to sew up their outfits
This mini-arc winks at a lot of my favorite Star Trek stuff that harkens all the way back to Space Seed. Archer even quotes (pre-quotes?) Spock in saying that "superior ability breeds superior ambition" and people talk an awful lot about Botany Bay. We also get mentions of the Soong family's future in cybernetics and that leads, obviously, to Data. 

Anyway, I watched this entire arc in one night while eating oven-made s'mores so it was pretty awesome. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Enterprise: Season Three Essentials

And so it was that UPN came down from the heavens and demanded that Enterprise be more serialized and more exciting and more explosioney. Thus then did the staff go forth and fill Season Three with all the hand-wringing, shouting, and darker plot threads that seemed to work so well for DS9.

What I've listed here are the absolutely essential episodes of this season though, because it's so serialized, you're still going to be missing some of the through-line. When I first watched season three, I was really disconcerted about the direction the show had taken. Watching it this time, I don't find so much fault in it. I still don't like Dark Archer or the rest of chronically brooding characters and I desperately miss the sense of exploration and wide-eyed wonder we got in the first two seasons. I suppose I'll write more about this in an Enterprise Sum-Up later on  in a couple days so for now, here are my Essential Episodes for Season Three:

After experiencing their first run-in with the dangerous anomalies of the Delphic Expanse, some serious jerks board Enterprise and Archer goes all Adama on the one jerk they managed to capture. This leads the crew to a ginormous, mysterious sphere.

2-The Shipment:
Archer tracks a component of the Xindi weapon to the Arborial Xindi colony that's producing it only to find that things aren't as he expected. Additionally, this episode has some interesting Xindi history, a new lemur friend for Archer, and we get to learn all about the lost Avian Xindi sub-species.

3- The Council:
Archer's decided to stop being such a brooding bastard and try to make peace with the Xindi. He appeals to their council (with the very competent Hoshi at his side) and things start looking up. But some people are just determined to be complete wads. (I'm looking at you, ya lizard jerks)

4- Countdown:
While T'Pol and Tucker try to dismantle one of the spheres, Archer makes a plea with the Aquatics to help him go after the stolen Xindi weapon. You get some really cool Aquatic alien stuff as well. Their ships are basically flying fish tanks.

5- Zero Hour:
The season finale. Nuff said.

Runners Up:
Honestly, these aren't really runners up. They're my favorite episodes of the season but you don't HAVE to watch them to get the story. They're just good episodes.

This is the "one time this amazing, tragic thing happened in another timeline" episode of Enterprise. Archer's brain gets infected by some anomaly parasites. That means he can't remember anything past a few hours and he and T'pol end up chilling together for thirty years while humanity is destroyed. It gets me right in the feels. Every time.

North Star:
Starfleet crews have been visiting Old West Space Towns since forever but this one is a nice take on it. Some aliens (who are totally not the aliens from Stargate) picked up some humans from earth way back when and used them for slave labor (again--totally not Stargate). By the time Enterprise catches up with them, the humans have rebelled and it's the alien species who are being mistreated and oppressed. It's an interesting take on an old idea. Bonus points for :
Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower) showing up as a cantankerous, tough Old West sheriff.
Everyone getting dressed up like they belong there.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Ship It: Reed & Hayes

When I watched Star Trek: Enterprise the first time around, I felt like there was something missing--something not quite true--about Malcolm Reed. For whatever reason, as I watched, I thought, "This should be a gay character."

I wasn't alone. As I found out later, Malcolm Reed was originally intended to be a gay character who would've been outed sometime in the first season. Someone (UPN?) decided that wasn't a good idea and they ended up making Reed a weird, sort of lady's man with twenty-four ex-girlfriends who was simultaneously, inexplicably shy around women. But, I just feel like that's a missed opportunity. How many lady's men with twenty-four ex-girlfriends have there been? Four, actually. Four main characters have been lady-killers with a line of exes behind them and lots and lots of one-episode stands that all ended badly.

So, if that's just a Trek trope, why am I so worked up about Malcolm being gay? Well, because it's this show. In this time. That's what this culture needed. And that's what Star Trek does. Trek is a show that breaks barriers and does firsts. It's a show that courageously leads people to better cultural understanding and maturely holds their hand all the while entertaining with high concept story-lines.

As I watched Seasons One and Two, I felt over and over again what a missed opportunity they'd had with Malcolm. But, in Season Three, my feelings became even stronger. Especially when Major Hayes showed up.
Oh, yes. 
Now allow me to tell you the amazing love story that could have been (and basically was):

Right from the get-go, Hayes and Reed are at each other's throats (though not literally--that would've been dreamy) over who should have control over Enterprise's tactical operations. They argue for a full twenty-three episodes over territory and personnel and training exercises. Their relationship has all the makings of cinematic romance. In fact, it almost perfectly mirrors that of T'Pol and Tucker's romantic relationship. Arguments. Denial. Bitching to their friends about each other. Until, finally, they passionately come together.

In fact, in the episode, Harbinger, T'Pol and Tucker spend the whole time arguing and sniping at each other until they finally, passionately crash into each other--kissing all naked-like. It's a big moment. You know it's been a long time coming but it's still a big deal when it happens so it's satisfying. Meanwhile, Reed and Hayes spend their half of the episode arguing and sniping at each other until they finally, passionately crash into each other--throwing punches until they both look like this:
How much more surprising, satisfying, and Star Trek would it have been if, once they started fighting, Reed and Hayes fell into the same kind of romantic embrace that T'Pol and Tucker were afforded? It could have been the beginning of an important Star Trek first. 

And, this would've been the end: 
Only a few episodes later, Hayes is mortally wounded and (surprise, surprise) it's Malcolm Reed who comes to his deathbed. This scene is already touching because of their antagonistic past and their ability to reconcile here but it could've been amazing had they had a deeper relationship--had they been the first LGBT Star Trek couple. 

I'm apparently not the first person to think this. When searching for pictures of these two I came across A LOT of Reed/Hayes fan fiction and quite a lot of it (like the Kirk/Spock fanfic of yesteryear) is NC-17. People have made delightful romantic videos about these two and posted romantic fan-art on DeviantArt. 

But, Star Trek, why leave it up to the adoring public? Why, for that matter, leave it up to people like Joss Whedon and Russell T. Davis? I'm SO glad those other things exist but you are the one who's supposed to be pushing buttons and boundaries--going where no TV show has dared to go before. You were fearlessly running episodes that blatantly opposed the oppression of minorities during the most heated years of America's Civil Rights movement. You featured American TV's first interracial kiss. You influenced generations of people to be braver, wiser, kinder and more courageous about standing up for the persecuted. 

So...what happened? 
Why have you never featured an openly gay main character? 
What happened to your original, bold nature? 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

And Now A Word From My Sister

The following is a guest post from my sister: 

When AshleyRose told me that she was going to blog about Star Trek for an entire year, I had no idea how beautiful of an idea that was. Growing up hundreds of miles apart, my sister and I never really had a chance to communicate our love of great TV. And so it was that my childhood was mysteriously lacking in all things Star Trek.

This summer when AshleyRose came to visit me in North Carolina, we went to see the new Star Trek: Into Darkness film, though she had already seen it once and was planning on watching it a third time when she reached Kentucky. When we got back to the house, I was enthralled and wanted more. So she gave it to me. The first Star Trek that I watched outside of the theater was a TOS episode, Space Seed—the one famous for the first appearance of Khan.

As I watched this episode with my big sister, who patiently explained parts of the episode that were confusing to me, I became hooked. I dedicated the rest of my summer nights to watching TOS. It became an obsession. Here I am, months later, a freshman in college who has watched all but fourteen of TOS and become an avid Trek fan. Most of my friends here on campus also appreciate the glory of Star Trek. Last night though, I showed a friend Star Trek for the first time.

Which episode did I choose? Space Seed.

After watching at least three episodes of Star Trek (not just TOS)/night for the past week with people who live and breathe Star Trek, it was fun to be the one explaining the longstanding bromance triangle between Kirk, Bones, and Spock. As silly as it is, I felt like a significant part of my life had come to a full circle. The grasshopper became the teacher. Chose whatever cheesy metaphor you want for the situation.

I can’t thank AshleyRose enough for introducing me to a world where I had not gone before.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Playing Pretend

So, here's something I love about Jonathan Archer: Dude LOVES to play pretend. I mean, I also love his sense of exploration, his loyalty, his sense of duty, his chronic shirtlessness etc. But, this guy, I mean, seriously. Give this guy half a chance to pretend to be some other guy and he'll be out the door with a wig and some face paint in five minutes flat.

He pretended to be from "uh... pretty far away from here..." to cozy up to a brilliant alchemist in Civilization. He pretended to be a total jerk who was willing to sell off Tucker's "wife" to some Ferengis in Acquisition. In The Communicator, he pretends to be a genetically enhanced enemy spy. He pretends to be a smuggler when arrested and then gets caught up in a hijacking in Canamar. And he gets really into all these mini-roles. You can tell Archer enjoys this stuff tremendously too.

You'd think all this pretending would come to an end in the Delphic Expanse but no. He actually gets to live out every kid's dream and play cowboy in a real life cowboy town in North Star.
One of his best performances comes in Stratagem when he puts on his trusty wig and hangs out for like a week with Degra in a shuttle--all the while convincing him that they've been BFF prison mates for the last three years and Degra just can't remember because of some super gross blood worms.

Basically, I think every time the NX-01 comes up on some aliens, Jonathan's already stroking his epic chin and dreaming up his backstory thinking, "What beard should I play it in?" But, I supposed if I'd stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator--and vanished only to awaken to find myself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not my own, and being driven by an unknown force to change history for the better--I wouldn't want to give that up either.

Can I just leap backward and watch this show over and over?
Thank you, Netflix.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Good Tidings

I've received a lot great emails lately from my readers. Maybe you sent me one. Maybe you left a nice comment. Maybe you've been reading this blog and have never written a single word to me but you keep reading it every so often and you're glad this project is here. Either way, I'm glad that you're here. 

This project has been about more than just one chick watching all of  Star Trek in one year. It's also been about you and our shared experiences. If you've been influenced by this project in some way, and you'd like to say something about it--even if its only a few sentences--I want to let you know that I really want to hear from you. And, if you're willing, I'd love to share your experience with the other readers. What I'm saying is, if you're interested in a guest post--please let me know. My Year of Star Trek has also become your Year Of Star Trek and you should have a chance to say what that's meant to you. I would love to hear from you and so would everyone else. 

In the meantime, please enjoy staring at this little (hugnormous) illustration which took me way longer than I'd anticipated but (I think) ended up being well worth it: 

Happy All The Days 
My Year Of Star Trek

PS- If you've been here for a while, you might recognize yourself. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Enterprise: Season Two Essentials

Yep. Season two is over already! Crazy, right? I love this season so it was a hard call but here are my essentials:

1- Carbon Creek:
In this one, T'Pol's memaw gets stuck on 1950's Earth in a podunk coal-mining town in Pennsylvania. Being, as I am, from a small town in the Appalachian mountains, I've always had a fondness for this one. It's kind of like October Sky meets Star Trek and I'm happy about that. I love this era in Space history--right after Sputnik but right before Kennedy's historic moon speech--and I love the simple sweetness of this story.

2- Singularity:
This one takes Trek's obsession with obsession to an obsessive new level. When the crew nears a black hole, they're affected by the radiation and wig out over whatever trivial bit of business (like fixing a chair or perfecting a recipe) they happen to be working on at the time. Singularity also showcases the Archer/T'Pol friendship in a nice way.

3- Cease Fire:
Vulcans vs. Andorians and Archer's in the middle of it.
Bonus Points for featuring Suzie Plakson

4- Judgement:
Archer winds up in the Klingon high court. This one is great for showing the Klingons at a transition period in their culture. They weren't always the marauding jackwagons we see in TOS or the battle-mongering (don't get me wrong--I LOVE them) warriors we see from TNG on. Sometimes they were lawyers--really great lawyers.
Bonus Points for featuring JG Hertzler (Martok)

5- The Expanse/The Xindi:
Here's where it all falls apart (literally) for Florida and Earth in general. You're not going to get Season Three without watching this one.

Runners Up:

The HIV/AIDs parable seems like something that belongs more in TNG but I really enjoy this one thanks to the other stigma they light-handedly feature: open marriages.

First Flight:
Ever wonder about Archer/Trip's BFF origin story? Here it is.

Dead Stop:
Crazy town space station in the middle of nowhere that can make pan-fried catfish and fix your ship for next to nothing? Count me in. This is one of the more original-to-Enterprise episodes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Enterprise Episodes Lately

I've been watching a whole, whole lot of Season Two but haven't had much of a chance to write about it. So, here are my thoughts on some things I've seen lately:

A Night In Sickbay:
A whole lot of people hate this episode. I don't. Aside from the fact that I totally get why, when your life is already ridiculous and full of pressure, your dog getting gravely ill (because of some dude not paying attention) might push you over the edge.
I think this is a great character episode--not just for Archer-- but for Phlox too. I love seeing him on a typical night. I think this one provides us with some perspective on this guy any why he's not Neelix, why he's not Quark, why he's his own character. He's commanding, empathetic, intelligent, and he sticks to his guns in a way that's surprising.

The Seventh:
This is a story in the classic, "Hypothetical Moral Ambiguity" trope. T'Pol, in her past, spent some time tracking down some renegade Vulcans and maybe she made some mistakes. The jerk she's sent to apprehend makes her question her choices and her own ethical code.
The Seventh is an example of the kind of stock, regular episodes that Star Trek has always done well. I love seeing T'Pol's inner turmoil and her relationship with Archer develop.

The Crossing:
Well, this one's super weird. It's kind of the Enterprise Body Snatching equivalent of TOS' Operation Annihilate or maybe Turnabout Intruder or perhaps Next Gen's Masks or maybe DS9's The Reckoning or Voyager's Cathexis. You get the idea. I sort of feel like, by the time you get to the 24th century possession of one's body by weirdo aliens is kind of run-of-the-mill.
"Oh, man. I ran into some aliens last night and they possessed me." Riker might say.
"Sell it up the street. That happened to me literally last week." Deanna would respond.
Anyway, Archer's crew are freaked the fuck out by this business. They're all, "Holy cow I was just eating pan fried catfish with Geronimo on the other side of space-time while an alien was IN MY BODY sitting here in the mess hall eating jello! What is happening?!??!"

Oh man, Trip. This is just... I know. I get it. I would teach that poor cogenitor to read too. But man, this kind of thing--getting involved in stuff you don't really understand--just NEVER. TURNS. OUT. WELL.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seventeen Days

I have something to tell you.

I am really, truly, freaking the hell out right now.

Back in January, when I first started this project, I would lay awake at night, my heart thumping, worried about the blog. I was freaking out about whether or not I could really watch all of Star Trek in a year. Whether doing so would jeopardize my other projects. Whether I would be able to come up with enough stuff to write about. Whether what I'd already written was any good.

Now, it's December 14th. Now, I'm going to bed and the same thing is happening but not for the same reasons. Now, I go to bed and my heart starts thumping and it's all because I'm so terribly, terribly sad for it to be over. I find myself not wanting to watch episodes--as if that would prolong the year. I find myself not wanting to write posts--as if doing so will somehow stop the project and the month and freeze everything in time. I realize, as I think these thoughts, that all of this is impossible. I have to get up and I have to watch four episodes and I have to write the posts and I have to say goodbye to 2013.

I realize that I'm going to keep up with this blog next year. I know that I have all of Star Trek lined up on my Netflix. I realize that the show will exist forever and I can write posts about whatever episode or character or trope I want at any time. But that doesn't change the fact that 2013 is seventeen days away from being over. And, after such an amazing, crazy, ridiculous year I don't want any part of it to be finished.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Enterprise: Season One Essentials

I can't believe I'm already doing the first Essentials post of the last series. Because I'm now watching at such a fast clip, I actually finished season 1 a couple of days ago and now I'm into season two. It's actually been pretty helpful to take a little time to let it digest but I know I can't keep doing that. Otherwise I'll be writing the Season Four essentials in January!

Anyway, here are my Essential Episodes from Enterprise Season One:

1-Broken Bow (Parts 1 and 2)
This is where it all starts. Though I'm not in love with this pilot, I think there's a lot of stuff to like here. Plus, they do a good job of telling us where all these characters came from, why they're important to the show, etc. The Enterprise crew is greener and more unsure of themselves than any other Trek crew so I think it's important that we understand why they each came aboard.

2-The Andorian Incident
Andorians! I love the Andorians and Shran in particular. This is a great "Vulcans Are Jerks" episode and the Archer/T'Pol solution to what's really going on a P'Jem is surprising and interesting.

3-Dear Doctor
I get that this is a controversial episode. I don't even agree with what happens here. And, after reading about the originally intended ending, I think it could've been better. Still, this is a great, character-driven Phlox episode and it gives us one of the first "We need a Prime Directive" conversations.

4-Shadows of P'Jem
 Tensions are rising between the Andorians and the Vulcans and when Archer and T'Pol are kidnapped by some third party asshats, Shran surprisingly steps in to help Trip and Malcolm save the day. This one's full of intrigue, phaser blasts, and some great T'Pol/Archer stuff as they start their journey toward BFF-ness.

5-Shockwave (Parts 1 and 2)
The season finale. An Enterprise shuttlepod is (apparently) responsible for the destruction of an entire colony and all its inhabitants. The Vulcans make their case (again) that humans aren't ready for space exploration and threaten to shut down the X-Files. They're recalling Enterprise and her crew. The way everyone comes together with an absent Archer's help is great.

Runners Up:

A Ferengi Romp!

7-Two Days and Two Nights-
I don't care how many people tout the calming effects of a vacation on Risa. From what I've seen, pretty much nothing good ever happens there. Still, this one's worth watching just to see someone's else's vacation get ruined.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pan Fried Catfish

There's a lot of food in Star Trek. From the weird play dough cubes they ate on TOS to the round, purple birthday cakes everyone got on Voyager, it's obvious that zipping through space gives a body an appetite. Each series has some distinct culinary options but I can't really think about Enterprise (or Trip Tucker) without thinking about pan fried catfish. Scotty had scotch. Troi had chocolate. Kira had raktajino. Southern born and bred Trip Tucker has pan fried catfish. He's way into it. His mom makes it. A creepy-as-hell automated space station makes it. And, because I'm also southern born and bred, I make it.

In fact, in celebration of Enterprise, I made it today:

And then I sat down to eat in in front of the TV where I watched four more episodes of Enterprise because I'm down to the wire

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Captain's Vlog #5

Well, it's December. It's actually been December for a while. After some delays I'm kind of down to the wire. The pressure's on but I've devised a way to stay on track and it involves candy:

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Young Naturalist #8

It's been quite some time since I did one of these Young Naturalist illustrations. But you just can't watch Enterprise without taking note of the many little critters inhabiting Dr. Phlox' lab. Hopefully, I'll get around to doing several more of these. For now, here's the Pyrithian bat mentioned in Fight or Flight and Dear Doctor and featured in A Night in Sickbay:

On another note, if you came here via Reddit: Treknobabble--Welcome! I'm glad you're here! 

If you're one of the people who's been posting my stuff there--thank you! 

As this year draws to an end, I find myself still surprised at the generosity and kindness that my readers have shown. Whether you're new to this project, you've been reading all year, or you're helping to spread the word about My Year of Star Trek, I appreciate you. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Enterprise: Shuttlepod One

In the season one episode, Shuttlepod One, Trip and Malcom are stuck together in a shuttle when they find that the Enterprise has been destroyed and they have very little chance of survival. Obviously, the Enterprise hasn't been destroyed. What Trip and Malcolm saw was actually the wreckage of another ship that the Enterprise has been assisting when they lost their back door. But, until Malcolm and Trip can get back in touch with their ship, they have to hang out together. They don't know each other particularly well. They don't, at first, seem to have much in common. They get on each other's nerves for a while, have a bit too much of one another, and then, eventually, this happens:

The same thing happened to me. Well, not exactly the same thing. I wasn't in a shuttlepod and my starship hadn't (not) been blown up. I was actually at my graduate program's brief residency. It was eleven days in a hotel and, while my roommate was a friend, we weren't really all that close. The funny thing is that after several (very long) days of lectures, workshops, and readings, we got much, much closer. We walked to classes together, ate meals together, drank together, did homework together, and went to sleep together around 3AM. Through all of that, we got a lot closer and when I went back to my regular life, I realized that I'd suddenly developed one of the most profound relationships of my life.

In fact, we became so close that we did the whole Shuttlepod thing again. And again. And again.

At our last residency, I came in from my recent cross-country move (as sick as I've ever been in my life) and she was about a million years pregnant. We were both graduating so we had lectures, teaching workshops, and readings to deliver. We needed each other more than ever and, luckily, there we were, all the way to the end:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

10 Reasons Why You Need To Watch Acquisition

Once upon a time, the crew of the TNG Enterprise made first contact with a bunch of butt-headed, belligerent aliens called the Ferengi. They were originally meant to be menacing (TNG's Klingons maybe?) but ended up being a little ridiculous (in a good way) which lead to some truly amazing Ferengi Romps in DS9. I LOVE these episodes. They were consistently some of my favorite DS9s. We got one Ferengi romp in Voyager but I've still been missing these butt-heads ever since. Lucky for me (and crappy for everyone who likes to obsess about canon and continuity) Enterprise has its very own Ferengi romp: Acquisition. Here's why you need to watch it:

1- This money shot:

2-Freaking Ethan Phillips. Yep. Just when I started really missing Neelix, he shows up here as the jerk Ferengi commander.

3-Freaking Jeffrey Combs. We just saw him as Shran and already he's back. They can't resist. I can't either. I love him.

4-Freaking Clint Howard. While Combs and Phillips both have long histories of popping up in Star Trek, neither of them can match Opie's little brother who showed up in TOS during one of my favorites, The Corbomite Maneuver.

5-This conversation with Porthos:

6- This episode is kind of the (chronological) origin of the whole "Ferengis are way into 'Vulcan Love Slaves'" trope from DS9.

7-A hilarious conversation about Trip's "wife" ensues between Trip and Archer.

8- Scott Bakula gets to flex his comedy muscles through this whole episode which is pretty damn rare.

9- Trip gets to flex his actual muscles and spends much of Acquisition in this little number:

10- This episode is a bit of a microcosm of the way Ferengi were perceived/developed throughout Trek. They show up out of the blue and they're super menacing but the longer they stick around, the more we (and the crew) realize what a bunch of delightful nimrods they all are.

Brannon Braga (and a lot of fans) hate this episode. They hate that the Ferengis were brought into Trek before their official first contact. They feel like it's a mistake, that it's too far outside of canon. But I love this one. I love that it plays with continuity a little. The crew never learn what this mysterious, butt-headed species is called and they're never seen again. I take it for what it is--a romp. A Ferengi romp in the most unlikely and unexpected of places.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Enterprise: A Little Catching Up To Do

So between the commissions I've been doing lately (with a rickety-ass, broke-down tablet) and the book editing, and the Enterprise watching, I know I've slacked a bit on real posts. I want to remedy that by covering a few Season One episodes from this week's viewing:

The Andorian Incident:
-So the Enterprise gets out to this sacred Vulcan monastery--P'Jem--and find its caretaker acting all fishy and weird  (you know, for a Vulcan). They soon discover that the place is overrun by Andorians who believe  P'Jem is being used as a spying station.

-This one is a great exploration of the "Vulcans Are Jerks" trope in Enterprise. I really like this stuff. I know a lot of people scoff at how pissy the Vulcans seem in these early years but, I have to say, after eleven months of them, I can totally see this as a realistic choice. Spock (though I love him) is a xenophobic jerk, always making jabs at humanity (even though his mom is totally human) in TOS and even in TNG, where humanity's relationship with this species is about as good as it could be, there are quite a few snobby Vulcans always ready to snip and quip about silly humans.

-Bonus points for Jeffrey Combs' return to Trek as Shran. This is my favorite Combs Character so I was legit thrilled to see him again.

Dear Doctor:
-This episode's story is told in the form of a letter to Phlox's human pen pal. The Enterprise is begged for help by a culture suffering from a deadly plague. But, when they try to help, they realize things are more complicated than they'd anticipated.

-Due to Phlox/Archer's decision about whether to help the culture, this episode is pretty controversial. And, even though I lean toward disagreement with them, I love Dear Doctor.

-This is a completely character-driven episode. Phlox needed to be fleshed out and this started his journey toward being a more real, more interesting person. He's not Quark. He's not Neelix. He's his own person and he's tough, smart, and (beneath that jolly exterior) kind of lonely.

-The Prime Directive. Oh man, these guys are really flying by the seat of their pants. Scott and I often refer to this episode whenever we talk about Enterprise because it's the first time we get a conversation about how they need established guidelines when it comes to interference with alien species.

-Ok, a bunch of touchy feely Vulcans show up to help round out the kinds of Vulcans we see in Enterprise. One of them is a total jerk and subjects T'Pol to a really uncomfortable mindmeld.

-Again, I like this one because it's a character-driven episode and T'Pol is starting to get a little meat on her character's skeleton. We begin to understand more about her past and her decision to stick around on Enterprise.

-Much like Dear Doctor, this one features a chronological first--the mind meld. Man, Spock mind melded with basically everybody he met. By the time we get to TOS, it's pretty much the Vulcan equivalent of a hug (where, I guess, the Vulcan salute is the equivalent of a handshake?) but here in the 2150's it's not even a little bit ok. It's considered invasive and dangerous and people don't really know how to do it.

Alright, I'm really Enterprise right now and I've got a lot of ideas about posts (including a Captain's Vlog!) so hopefully I can get back on track tomorrow!

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